Friday, September 19, 2014

Apple Pay- What Does it Mean For Your Business

   

September 11, 2014
Apple Pay
Apple’s recent unveiling of its new iPhone 6 and Apple Pay platform has sparked a lot of conversation surrounding mobile payments, near field communications (NFC) and the future of mobile commerce. With Apple finally adopting NFC and entering the payments space, you may have some questions regarding how this might affect you and your business.
Merchant Warehouse has followed the announcement and the technology closely all in an effort to help our partners and customers understand the opportunities of Apple Pay and NFC enabled payments present for their businesses.

How will Apple Pay work?
Apple Pay syncs a few of Apple’s existing programs together and when coupled with the new NFC chips in the iPhone 6 can create a seamless payment experience at the point-of-sale. By combining NFC and the account information Apple already has with iTunes, the ability to store other credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards with Passbook, a secure element with their TouchID thumb print imaging, Apple Pay delivers a seamless and secure wallet solution for retail environments and mobile check-out.

What’s the biggest impact Apple Play will have on our industry?
Apple’s introduction into the payments space will have two inherent outcomes: (1) applications that rely on NFC will be developed at a more rapid pace; and (2) consumers should finally start adopting mobile payments. To date, there havent been that many mobile wallets or applications that have taken advantage of NFC. But with NFC being incorporated in the iPhone 6, we can expect more and more applications using the NFC functionality for not only payment apps, but for other practical functions.

It has long been predicted that Apple would be the catalyst for mobile payments. They distribute the most popular mobile devices in the world, have a loyal customer base that integrate different aspects of their lives to their hardware and software and an avid developer community that develops applications to exploit their devices’ functionality.

We already trust Apple (and other mobile devices and platforms) with some of our most important daily functions. It’s only a matter of time before consumers begin to trust and adopt Apple Pay to be their payment method of choice.

Merchant Warehouse is very excited for the opportunities that Apple Pay will bring for businesses. Our Genius Customer Engagement Platform was designed for these types of innovations in mind. The NFC readers in our Genius devices can accept Apple Pay payments today and it will continue to evolve with future innovations.

To view the original article visit: Merchant Warehouse

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How To Use Technology To Provide A Better Customer Experience


By Scott Kreisberg, One Step Retail Solutions

I’ve been in the retail industry for more than 20 years and I can tell you that today’s modern shopper is tech-savvy and constantly on the go. With the use of technology implemented in society, shoppers expect retailers to be just as up to date, if not more, when it comes to their retail experience. It’s imperative to rapidly and effectively service your customers and maximize their in-store experience so they turn into long-term customers. In order to combat the issue of living in today’s fast-paced society, it’s vital to utilize the technologies available to you, so you can stay relevant and provide a lasting impression with your customers.

Mobile POS
There’s no secret, exceptional customer service is still the key in creating a lasting and positive shopping experience for your customer. However, 50% of shoppers today price check online, and 32% expect a retailer to be able to order an item not in stock and have it shipped to their home. Mobile POS allows sales associates to provide an in-store experience the consumer can’t get online, giving the retailer a better chance to make that sale. By using a mobile POS, sales associates can effectively move through lines faster to create a quick and positive customer service experience. Sales can be rung up at the point of decision with a mobile POS and associates can up sell by suggesting accessories to buy with a purchase. Customers feel valued when an associate can locate an item not in stock and either have it sent to them directly or at a nearby store, offering the item they’re searching for. Long checkout lines are the quickest ways to lose a customer, so having a mobile POS allows an associate to hop in and make that sale. Reduced transaction time equals more sales and happier customers.

E-Receipts
E-Receipts are booming in the retail industry because it gives you an opportunity to strategically market your campaigns with customized emails to your customers, based on what they like. A customer email address provides you powerful information because it is a fast way to learn and connect with your customers. Sending an E-Receipt allows you to send targeted email offers and advertisements based on past purchases. With HTML you can embed videos, provide web site links and consumer analytics so you know what customers are responding to. Additionally, you can assign each line item on a receipt to social media tabs, so customers can instantly post and share with their friends what and where they just made a purchase. E-Receipts are a great opportunity to connect with customers; by sending them relevant information you can position the customer to continuously come back.

Customer service innovation is being highly driven through technology today. It is key to stay up to date on current technology trends, while continuing to provide excellent customer service, which is the foundation of your business. As a retailer, you can offer discounts and specials to tempt customers, but at the end of the day the in-store shopping experience trumps all of that. The modern, tech-savvy consumer is the one driving the paradigm shift, so position yourself to the future and keep your customers coming back.

Scott Kreisberg is the Founder and CEO of One Step Retail Solutions. After graduating from college with a double Bachelors of Science degree in Finance and Marketing, Kreisberg established One Step Data in June of 1985. He consulted businesses, selling them computer hardware and software that made it easier for them to run their businesses more efficiently. In 1987, after some investigation, Kreisberg soon recognized that the retail POS/Inventory Control market was a niche yet to be developed for the small to medium-sized retailers. He came to the realization that with his passion for retail and knowledge of computer technology he could help many retailers.

View the original article at: Retail TouchPoints

Friday, September 12, 2014

Apple Pay Is Here — and There’s Just One Big Problem

Merchant Warehouse® and top retail technology reseller One Step Retail Solutions recently won the Innovative Solution Award for Best Partnership by the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) and Vertical Systems Reseller (VSR) Magazine. This award honors both companies for bringing Merchant Warehouse’s Genius™ Customer Engagement Platform™ to One Step Retail Solutions’ retail customers. Read below about how Merchant Warehouse feels about Apple Pay and what it means for retailers.

@JakeD

While many consumers are ready to embrace the new mobile-payments service, most retailers are not. At least, not yet

On Tuesday, Tim Cook took the stage to announce — in addition to a few other things you may have heard about — a brand new mobile payments service called Apple Pay. Instead of swiping a credit card, users of the service will swipe their iPhones (or Apple Watches), which can be preloaded with customer’s debit and credit cards using the Passbook application.
courtesy of Apple
 

Having one phone to rule all our cards sounds pretty great, and Apple is certainly positioned better than any other company to make mobile payments finally catch on. But there’s one issue the company still has to surmount before it can kill off plastic for good: Right now, the vast majority of retailers lack the technology to accept the company’s new payment service.

As CEO Tim Cook acknowledged during Apple’s announcement, only 220,000 stores will work with Apple Pay out of the gate. That’s about 2.4% of the roughly 7 million to 9 million merchants in the U.S. that accept credit cards. The remaining 97.6% of businesses do not have point-of-sale systems that work with near-field communication (NFC), the technology Apple Pay relies on. Merchants will have to upgrade their checkout process for Apple’s service to catch on, and the expense of such an endeavor has—thus far—left many businesses reluctant to do so.

Michael Archer, a partner leading the Global Financial Services practice at Kurt Salmon, thinks the major indicator of whether an Apple payment service will succeed is the number of locations prepared to accept NFC. According to Archer, who spoke to MONEY just before Apple Pay was announced, the service would need to be usable at about 20% of U.S. retail locations to reach critical mass of acceptance. So far, Apple isn’t close to hitting that number.

However, Archer points out that credit card companies may have an incentive to help stores acquire NFC technology to give their own cards an edge. “This could be a way to lock someone into the card if you can make it extremely convenient to use in the device,” said Archer. Another development he thinks could work in Apple’s favor is that merchants will soon be forced to upgrade their point-of-sale systems to accept EMV, a new card technology meant to reduce fraud. Card companies have given their customers until 2015 to make the transition, with laggards bearing increased liability for credit card fraud, but stores have dragged their feet. With the deadline approaching, more merchants may finally decide to upgrade and choose to add in NFC compatibility while they’re at it.

But not all experts are rosy on Apple’s chances for mobile payment domination—at least in the near term. George Wallner, co-founder and CTO of LoopPay, an Apple Pay competitor that uses existing point-of-sale infrastructure for mobile payments, predicts a slow acceptance of Apple Pay, and other NFC-dependent services like Softcard and Google Wallet. While Wallner was impressed by Apple’s demonstration, he says it will take more than the promise of Apple compatibility to get merchants to change their ways, especially when the status quo works just fine. “It’s not an easy change,” says Wallner. “It is a long, drawn-out, careful, extensive process. It can take six to eight months to even certify a new system. Retailers look at the bottom line, and they see nobody is offering a financial incentive for them to change.” According to the LoopPay founder, even increased fraud liability may not be costly enough to spur a jump in NFC adoption.

That said, Wallner believes that over time, merchants will gradually upgrade their equipment to support Apple Pay. In a decade, he sees NFC having significant market penetration and co-existing with both older and newer payment technology.

One feature that might convince merchants to upgrade ahead of schedule would be a way for businesses to use Apple Pay to reward loyal customers. According to Archer, a slightly more convenient way to pay, by itself, doesn’t provide enough value to customers or merchants to force a change in behavior. Integrating loyalty programs into Apple Pay, on the other hand, would give merchants a reason to upgrade their terminals and consumers a reason to use the service. Passbook, which powers Apple Pay, also integrates with multiple retailers’ loyalty cards.
Apple “is going to be playing on the cool factor on the first round of this,” said Henry Helgeson, CEO of Merchant Warehouse, a company that helps retailers implement mobile payments. “The real value is when merchants can put loyalty in those wallets and get repeat business. It’s something that they know and retailers know is very important to them. We’re going to see version 2.0 with some of those things.”

Overall, Helgeson anticipates Apple Pay being a huge success. His company recently outfitted 3,000 retailers with upgraded point-of-sale systems that included an NFC reader. “I’m pretty happy about that decision right now,” said Helgeson.

To view the original article visit: http://time.com/money/3311917/apple-pay-iphone-iwatch-passbook/

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Key to Event Marketing Success

From our friends at SnapRetail
 
A successful in-store event is the perfect way to drive traffic, get to know your customers and have a great time doing it! Follow these tips to host a store event that will be one for the books.

 

Choose a theme

In the beginning stages of planning for your event, first choose a theme. The possibilities are endless, but could be based off of a holiday or special occasion - like your store's anniversary. To make an even bigger impact with your event, consider pairing up with a charity. Any avenue you choose when selecting a theme will make promoting your event easier and more enticing for your customers.
FBEvent Example

Choose a time and date

Plan your event far in advance to allow you enough time to promote your event and gather all necessary materials for the big day. If you're planning your event around a holiday or special occasion, choose a date and time that is most convenient, not only for your store, but for those attending as well. You could host events during store hours, but also have the option to stay open late with an "after hours" event. To determine which option is best for your event, take everyone's preferences into consideration.

 

Develop your marketing plan

Promoting your event is one of the most important parts of the planning process and is a huge reason why choosing a date far enough in advance is important. Rushing a promotion will make it less likely to be successful. Plan out enough time to allow you to draw in and hook your audience.

Tease your audience on social media, email and in-store to generate excitement. Make statements and ask questions that get customers interested. Consider using messages like, "Something big is happening at our store! Want to know more? Stay tuned!" or "Sign up for our email list if you want to be the first to know about our big surprise!"
 
FBEvent Example2


Invite your customers in every way possible. Tap into social media, email, traditional advertising, print advertising and any other way your creativity takes you, to spread the word. This step in your marketing plan is crucial to make sure your event is well-attended. Inviting your customers and their friends goes hand-in-hand with teasing your audience. You will be adding to the excitement by providing the details they have been waiting for.

Another way to invite customers is to utilize Facebook. Create a Facebook event page to bring everyone invited together before your event. This will serve the purpose of sharing updates and all details in a centralized place for those attending.
 
FBEvent Example3


Remind your customers of your event. After generating all of the excitement and releasing the details of your event, you need to seal the deal with reminders. You can remind your customers by sending out an email and scheduling posts to your social networks at several different times of the day to reach as many people as possible. Remind your customers on social media five, three and one day(s) prior to your event.
 
FBEvent Example4
 

Pull out all of the stops

There is a lot that needs to go into making your event successful. Don't leave any stone unturned when making your store event the best of the year. Add elements that take your efforts above and beyond.

Provide live updates by uploading photos and videos in real time for your social media following who were unable to attend. This is an easy way to encourage them to come to your next event!

Encourage customers who have attended to also upload photos, tag your store and use your hashtag to their own personal social networks. This will allow your awesome event to reach an even broader audience and create (free) buzz.

 

Document your event

In addition to live updates, document photos and videos that you can upload to social and send in an email at a later date. Documenting your event will serve multiple purposes. You will be able to show off what a wonderful time you had with your customers, and bring more customers to your next event. Additionally, updates serve as a way to reflect on your event and aid in planning/improving your next event.

 

Give thanks and follow up

After all that has gone into planning this spectacular event of yours, it wouldn't have been possible without your customers who have attended. Once your event has passed, thank your customers who have attended in addition to those who didn't, but have been supporting your brand all along. A little thanks goes a long way and customer appreciation should become a habit.
 
FBEvent Example5


 Despite the planning and effort that goes into hosting a successful event, it will be well worth your while. Events give you the opportunity to get to know and interact with your customers, while giving them a chance to appreciate all that you do. For everything you need to know to make your event the talk of the town, download our Event Marketing Success Bundle!
 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Connect with Your Customers Using Social Media

Peter Pishko VP of Operations at One Step Retail Solutions

Recently while researching a prospect, I visited their web site and read an interesting time line on the origins of the company. It was very witty and clearly demonstrated the lifestyle of the founders and accurately portrayed the atmosphere of the company namely fun. It was quite a read, but the timeline stopped in 2006. Now, I know that the company still exists and is in very healthy shape (kudos these days) but the company history on their website was incomplete. I wanted to know more and was interested in the more recent history. As we all gravitate towards these new marketing tools, that is exactly what they are on a personal and business level, it is really important that they are updated regularly. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are great methods of keeping in communication with your customers, but they must be maintained.
Think of it this way, a customer takes the time to become a fan of your business or sign up on Facebook because they are interested in what is new and exciting with your operation. As you are opening boxes and merchandising new product on your sales floor, send out alerts, let them know. Add photos of your staff modeling the new assortment, your staff will love it. We used to send out direct mail to our best customers and it was tough to be timely. We had to schedule and print postcards and mail them out to ensure that the customer received the notification with enough notice so they could attend the trunk show etc. E-mail blasts were a great alternative until the SPAM gods came along and made it very difficult to stay out of the spam filter especially when attachments are involved. Now you can give notice of an upcoming event and remind them multiple times. Just as your customers have shown you a commitment by signing up for your information updates, show interest in them by maintaining and continuing the exchange of communication. Customer service is all about commitment, so assign a dedicated individual to maintain your social networking site and reap the benefits of this instant and free communication with your most valuable of assets.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Small Biz Suggestion Box

 

Your store may not have a physical "suggestion box," but there are many new ways to find helpful feedback that may not be so obvious. The more you know your audience, the better you can tailor your messaging to resonate with their interests and needs. Owning and/or operating an independent business is hard work, and sometimes it's easy to be too close to the project to see the bigger picture.

Customer feedback is the key to a successful business. In the age of social media, chances are if a customer has a bad experience, you can say goodbye to that customer AND their friends. That's why embracing customer feedback is the key to keeping your business alive and well. A cardboard box sitting on your retail counter can't always get the job done. Here are some suggestions on getting productive feedback:
  1. Use Email Marketing. Send regular emails to customers about sales, new products and store updates to keep them involved. You can simply send out an email campaign that says, "Tell us what you think!" for an open-ended approach. Depending on your mailing list size, you can prompt your customers to reply back with feedback or an answer to your open-ended question. Another option is to provide a small survey for customers to fill out online using a free tool such as Survey Monkey. Asking for feedback through email gives customers the time to think through their answer rather than putting them on the spot.
  2. Include Incentives. When asking customers to give feedback, try to incorporate an incentive, "Please take the time to fill out this customer survey and automatically be entered to win 50% off of your next purchase." This way people who may not have thought about giving their feedback initially, may reconsider. You can give away prizes such as gift cards or a basket filled with some of your most popular products. These incentives can help boost online engagement and drive more customers into your store. Incentives can be used for more than just feedback. If you're gathering donations for a charity or hosting a contest; be creative!
    artisan basket.PNG
  3. Ask Your Employees. More often than not, employees have great suggestions but aren't sure if it's their place to speak up. Encourage your employees to submit any ideas they might have to boost sales or improve business. Have a "brainstorming" meeting with your employees and encourage everyone to speak freely about their new ideas.
  4. Use Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are the perfect ways to reach a massive audience in one or two simple sentences. Update your social media sites with a status or tweet reading, "We want to hear from you! Comment below (or tweet us) your favorite product that we carry. Those who comment will be entered to win our latest giveaway!" Give a deadline to create a sense of urgency and encourage more people to participate. On a Facebook Page, there is an exclusive tab for customer reviews built into the profile. Customers can give your business a rating based on a five star scale as well as write a brief testimonial. First time visitors to your Facebook Page will see your business's average rating on the left-hand side of the page.
    Pats -Monograms1
  5. Let customers stock the shelves. There is always a chance that there are great products out there that you have never even heard of. Have a "Stock Our Shelves!" event, where customers come and submit their ideas about products they believe would be a good fit for your store. Take these new products into serious consideration because it's a great way to keep customers coming back if you are the only store in the area that carries their favorite brand.
  6. Build a presence on review platforms. There are websites that serve the purpose of an online suggestion box. Add your business's information to websites such as Yelp, Google Places, Truelocal and more. Refer to our roundup below and update your listings.
 
Encourage customers to give your business a review. Include links to these sites in your monthly newsletter or in-store signage. The more reviews and traffic you receive, the more likely you are to appear in search results. This is a great way to gain new customers through the feedback and loyalty of existing ones.
 
Try out a few different ways to get customer feedback to figure out what works best for your store. Whether you host contests, develop email campaigns or build your presence on review platforms, you'll be sure to hear a lot of suggestions to implement into your marketing.  
 
To view the original article visit: The Small Biz Suggestion Box

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 2014 Innovative Solution Awards

 

By Lisa Terry
Posted Date: 8/5/2014
Solving a problem. Driving innovation. Delivering ROI. Creating something unique and cool. Accomplishing just one of these is great. Doing all four at the same time is downright difficult. But that’s just what the winners of the annual Innovative Solutions Awards—a collaboration between VSR Magazine and the Retail Solutions Providers Association—have accomplished. Our judges—writers, editors and industry leaders—considered a boatload of entries from vendors, consultants, solution providers and end users, ultimately selecting six as winners of the 2014 Innovative Solution Awards.

VSR Magazine and the RSPA would like to congratulate the recipients of this year’s awards, which were presented at the RSPA’s RetailNOW Convention and Expo during the show’s awards banquet on August 5 in Orlando.

Payment Processing

iDriveThru
By iDriveThru

If the best things come to those who wait, it stands to reason they can come while waiting to pay at the Dunkin Donuts drive-through—from an eight-year-old.

That was the genesis of iDriveThru, conceived by Eli Grinvald’s daughter while getting breakfast at DD while on vacation. Why can’t the RFID toll tag be used to pay for their meal, Grinvald wondered, and why don’t they know who we are and what we want by now?

He soon discovered the RFID toll tag would really be the best way to recognize customers and transact payment. The northeast’s EZPass toll system doesn’t lend itself to commercial transactions, but the tag does, and there are 110 million parking or toll tags out there. He and three partners founded iDriveThru
(idrivethru.com) and designed a system that overcomes the problems that doomed previous toll tag payment systems.

Where the solution really delivers value is in places where you stop, order, fumble for a wallet and pay, like quick service, parking, car washes, pharmacies and amusement parks.

Consumers opt in by linking a payment card to the device ID on their existing transponder (EZ-Pass, Sun­Pass, etc.). An RFID reader above the ordering intercom reads the toll tag and a customer-facing monitor welcomes the user by name, displays reward points and notifies the cashier. Complete POS integration, using Datacaps NETePayintegrated payments software, allows for an intuitive ordering process, then the consumer is invited to pay with iDriveThru. The cashier taps a button on the POS and the transaction is complete. NETePay communicates with iDriveThru servers to obtain the user’s tokenized card data and forwards it to the merchant’s payment processor.

Speed is critical in quick service and long lines drive consumers away. iDriveThru solves this by removing payment, building customer loyalty and retention and delivering in-depth customer analytics. A five-unit Wendy’s franchise in Staten Island is an early adopter.

The solution is flexible to switch payment mechanisms and to expand to solve more merchant problems, says Grinvald. “We’re all about integration, adding value and enhancing experience and merchant revenue.”

Customer Engagement Technology
OPI Consumer Price Scanner
By Optical Phusion

Laws can definitely drive markets, for example, the item pricing law in Massachusetts that says for every 5,000 square feet, retailers need to offer a price checker with printing capability. But Optical Phusion (opticalphusion.com) wanted to deliver much more value than simple price checkers.

OPI did extensive research on retailers’ needs and discovered that they preferred to invest in a solution that not only complies with the law, but offers a return on investment. So OPI developed and beta tested solutions until they arrived at a flexible kiosk design that not only allows consumers to scan UPC to view and/or print item prices via a Motorola scanner, but can also be configured to check inventory at any of the retailer’s stores, interact with loyalty programs and print custom coupons based on past purchases via a Zebra printer mechanism. Consumers can also summon a store attendant from a kiosk.

Extensive research led to a highly refined final configuration, such as encasing the printer to prevent customers from pulling labels before printing was complete.

They also developed a “Video 6” option to work in tandem with the OPI price checker. Video 6 is a video content management tool application that features a management console that enables store managers to customize a promotional message by department or location within the store to alert customers to outstanding deals. Video 6 is also a real-time management tool for the distribution and version control of HD videos to the reseller’s OPI price checkers and electronic signage. In addition, Video 6 enables a tablet to perform multiple functions such as promotional videos, price checking, gift registry and loyalty functions on the same device.

OPI price scanner is installed in several major name brand supermarket and smaller chains, well beyond Massachusetts.

“This has helped us attract new customers not based in Massachusetts,” says Scott Arnold, president of OPI. “We’ve been able to land three to four national accounts and broaden our geography.” Clients can expand their relationship with Video 6 and install a RFID portal reader solution to identify loyalty customers via RFID card as they arrive in store.

POS Solution
Solution for Salon Centric
By Essential Systems Solutions

Salon trade shows are big business for L’Oreal’s Salon Centric professional haircare products division, as much as $1 million for a three-day show. But a cash register system with separate credit card processing, set up and torn down for every event, was leading to entry errors, long training times, weeklong delays in sales reporting and inventory management based on shipment, not sales. Set-up and breakdown was time-consuming for Essential Systems Solutions (esspos.com), entailing complex cable management.

Salon Centric asked for a mobile tablet solution, but a test showed it was unworkable due to high cash volume and the need to use costly on-site Wi-Fi. L’Oreal wanted a small footprint and integration with a back office SAP system to get better visibility into sales and inventory.

ESS POS delivered and then some. Its solution uses Par EverServ 500 terminals with PixelPoint POS, Honeywell barcode scanner and APG 1416 cash drawer that integrate into a neat, 13” by 13” Touch Dynamic all-in-one printer base with Epson TM-T70 printer. ESS POS also designed a wooden shipping container that securely houses 16 terminals staged and ready to go, without the need for time-consuming shrink wrap.

L’Oreal Salon Centric purchased 50 terminals and licenses, and contracts ESS POS for set-up, support and tear down at 18 annual events. Now payment processing is reduced from 25 seconds to three, sales are up 50%, inventory data is available instantly, lines move faster and integrated processing lowered fees. Training is much faster, and Salon Centric can easily bundle products and create new UPCs to drive sales. The system also enables commissions, so the professional salesforce now has reason to drive traffic to shows, says Jason Thompson, president of ESS.

The solution is delivering better performance and is easier to use, says Michael Tash, VP of ESS POS. “The client is extremely happy.” That’s great, because Salon Centric also has 450 stores whose staff also work the shows, creating demand and opportunity for the solution in those stores. It has also opened up a new market opportunity in trade show POS solutions; ESS POS has already added a BBQ festival.

Software Application
ScanItAll
By StopLift Checkout Vision Systems

POS-video integration has made identifying and analyzing fraudulent transactions a lot easier. But its Achilles heel is sweethearting, because there is no data for something that was never scanned.

As he worked on an MBA field study on preventing retail shrinkage, Malay Kundu learned that most of the $10 billion in shrinkage is internal and happens at checkout, and as a result many retailers use video surveillance there. “I had that aha moment,” says Kundu, founder and CEO.

Knowing retailers are cost-conscious, with tight margins, he and his development team formed StopLift Checkout Vision Systems (stoplift.com) and designed a solution that uses already installed POS and over-checkout CCTV equipment—analog or IP. Using real video from retailers’ checkouts, they developed ScanItAll, a solution that uses computer vision technology to interpret cashier and customer body motions at checkout. The system analyzes pixels in real time to identify fraudulent behavior, such as failing to scan or covering a barcode, as well as items remaining anywhere in the cart.

The solution includes a secure Web 2.0 interface to view and analyze actionable incidents detected by StopLift. By combining state-of-the-art web video streaming technology with video-to-transaction log synchronization, the ScanItAll web application allows an advanced, intuitive and easy-to-use access to actionable incidents on any of the major web browsers without the need to install additional software.

Retailers can be alerted the first time a fraudulent incident occurs, significantly reducing shrinkage, deterring future theft, and boosting profitability. Retailers often use it to improve training or start building a case, Kundu says.

The SaaS-based system runs on an in-store server running video analytics, and uses existing POS and cameras. “Resellers can resell our hardware or build their own servers: We’re about the software,” says Kundu. ScanItAll is already installed in stores across the globe, where it reduces inventory shrinkage by 10% to 15%, and returns on investment in six to nine months. StopLift is working on a mobile checkout version.

The most recent enhancement is a self-checkout version, the Self Checkout Accelerator, which uses similar technology to improve the self-checkout experience by identifying legitimate behavior that would otherwise cause a system disruption, such as a purse on the scale.

Partnership
One Step Retail Solutions POS with Genius Customer Engagement Platform
By One Step Retail Solutions and Merchant Warehouse

“Gaze into your crystal ball and tell me what new payment paradigms will win so I know what to buy.” That’s a request heard every day by POS solution providers, including One Step Retail Solutions (onestepretail.com). Keeping merchants up to date on PCI requirements and card association mandates is tough when you know the latest solution may soon need to be upgraded or replaced yet again.

One Step, which serves SMBs of five to 100 stores, approached POS software developer Retail Pro International to find a solution. That ultimately led to Merchant Warehouse and its Genius Customer Engagement Platform: a flexible, user-friendly, hardware-agnostic software platform to accommodate current and future payment paradigms so customers can pay how they want. It also shields POS from sensitive card data through tokenization and offers loyalty and marketing capabilities.

Options include traditional, chip and PIN, mobile wallets or other mobile payment technologies, including NFC, EMV and QR/2D bar codes, as well as integration with retailer loyalty and reward programs. Payment hardware companies now offer products with all of these options; Genius replaces the OS on that hardware and is remote-upgradeable. “It’s like an app store, where you click on an app and add it to your phone,” says Scott Kreisberg, CEO/founder of One Step Retail Solutions. “The usability is something everyone understands.”

After a six-month integration and testing process between Retail Pro and Merchant Warehouse, One Step provided a pilot customer for testing and customer feedback.

Genius is “a great asset for us,” says Kreisberg. For retailers, he says, flexible payment options help SMBs level the playing field with larger chains. That capability is a selling point, and One Step now offers it in LightSpeed and Teamwork Retail POS applications too. But in addition, “the people who have bought it are finding the user interface easy to handle, so they’re not having to call us with a bunch of questions,” Kreisberg says. “It also helps us with PCI compliance by lowering the risk of exposure. We’re number two in line for lawsuits after the manufacturer. We’re really confident in that aspect.”

Mobile Solution
DeliveryIQ
By FoodTec Solutions

Managing food delivery services has long been a seat-of-your-pants operation; even years of experience could be thwarted by kitchen or traffic delays. Previous attempts to solve the problem with dedicated mobile devices and data plans were too costly. As smartphones and cheap data became pervasive, FoodTec Solutions (foodtecsolutions.com) saw the chance to develop a highly impactful solution for current and future customers.

The result was DeliveryIQ, an integrated native Apple and Android solution that tracks food orders and drivers while providing management and consumers with real­time updates, order status and driver location information. The solution leverages GPS sensors, phone-based and in-house mapping capabilities and ping messaging to FoodTec’s cloud to maintain communication among drivers’ phones and the restaurant. DeliveryIQ integrates with POS and kitchen systems.

Using this data, kitchen orders can sync with current demand and delivery promises. Dispatchers or drivers themselves can make intelligent decisions about timing and grouping orders. Drivers can communicate en route with customers—who can track the driver’s progress—and upon arrival, hand the phone to the customer for coupon redemption, payment and gratuity. Order-takers can confidently deliver accurate delivery times to customers at the time or order and via delivery confirmations, increasing customer satisfaction and driver tips. Owners know exactly where their drivers are, increasing their sense of safety and control.

“Restaurants gain the ability to deliver more orders in less time, and do so with fewer drivers,” says Andrew Bounas, president of FoodTec. “Costs are reduced and customer satisfaction increases.”

Early adopters have seen their number of deliveries increase more than 20% with the same number of drivers, fees to drivers increase more than 20%, tips to drivers rise by 10% or more, and average minutes per delivery drop from 24.43 minutes to 21.87 minutes.

DeliveryIQ is the first FoodTec product that can be integrated with other POS systems, opening up a larger market opportunity. That’s particularly attractive as more restaurants add delivery services. “We estimate 20% of restaurants in the country will do delivery in the next couple of years,” says Alan Hayman of Hayman Consulting Group, who is working with FoodTec on marketing and development. VSR

To view the original article visit: http://vsr.edgl.com/magazine/August-2014/The-2014-Innovative-Solution-Awards94322

Friday, August 22, 2014

8 Reasons to Do A Pop-Up Shop

  • by Humayun Khan
  • Posted in Physical Retail
  • June 13, 2014
  • Pop-up shops are the Snapchat of retail; Most of their magic comes from their temporary and "get-it-while-it-lasts" nature.

    In fact, according to Specialty Retail, pop-ups are expected to be a $8 billion a year industry, and has everyone from Warby Parker to popular boy band One Direction trying to get in on the action.
    Not only can the location of a pop-up vary but brands use them for a wide array of purposes, from creating an unforgettable and branded experience for consumers that generate buzz and brand awareness, to quickly testing and experimenting in what used to be costly retail waters. In essence, pop-ups are transforming the way we shop.

    Over the last few months, we've been busy creating resources to help merchants who might have only sold exclusively online to consider thinking about pop-ups shops as another sales channel. From picking and negotiating the perfect location, designing the store interior and displays, to marketing and evaluating your success, we hope to provide everything you'll need to get started.

    Regardless of whether you're considering your first pop-up or have a few under your belt, here are eight reasons why every ecommerce merchant should give pop-up shops a chance.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Nordstrom Sees Sales Boost From Mobile POS Devices

    Kelly Clay Contributor 

    Long lines are one of the worst nightmares for retailers – especially those with consumers about to make purchases worth hundreds of dollars. For these customers, standing in line for several minutes provides the opportunity to think about the purchase they are about to make. This time can allow customers to think about the necessity of the purchase and the cost, and given too much time to over-analyze the potential purchase, a customer standing in line can easily decide to set aside part of the potential purchase and pay less for fewer items – or even walk away entirely.

    Retailers like Apple and Home Depot recognized the need to eradicate this wait several years ago, providing employees with mobile POS devices that enable them check out customers from anywhere within the store if the customer is paying with a debit or credit card. Employees at Apple’s retail stores have been armed with iOS devices for several years, enabling consumers to easily make purchases without waiting in line. In early 2011, Home Depot introduced their “First Phone” to allow customers to check out from anywhere within the store, also without having to wait in line.
     
    Now, Nordstrom, the Seattle-based fashion and beauty retailer offering apparel, shoes, makeup and other beauty products, is rolling out mobile point-of-sale (POS) devices throughout their full-line stores, as well as in some of their Nordstrom Rack stores. These mobile POS devices, which is a modified iPod Touch with a merchandise scanner and credit card slider, allow employees to check out customers from anywhere in the store. The app on the device also provides Nordstrom’s sales staff access to the company’s entire inventory, which is useful when helping customers check if an alternative size or color is available elsewhere, without needing a register to look up that information.

    Nordstrom has deployed over 6,000 of these devices throughout their 117 full-line stores, and at some Nordstrom locations, there are more mobile POS devices than regular registers. Colin Johnson, a spokesperson for Nordstrom, says that these devices are part of a larger plan for Nordstrom to help “provide a more technology enabled store experience.” He notes that in 2005, Nordstrom began offering the option to ship merchandise directly to customers, and in 2009 the company integrated inventory with its online store. In 2010, Nordstrom then introduced WiFi into stores to “make it easier for customers to stay connected in the stores by using their mobile devices to shop and to compare and learn more about merchandise.”

    With WiFi, Nordstrom laid a foundation for these new mobile POS devices, which Nordstrom finished initially rolling out in mid-2011 and are primarily being used in B.P. (the trendy young women’s section) and shoes, which is a conglomerate of smaller departments catering towards specific demographics. Other departments using these devices include men’s. At the flagship Nordstrom store in downtown Seattle, most sales associates in these departments can be found armed with a mobile point-of-sale device and using them to checkout customers paying with plastic. When a Nordstrom customer checks out with a mobile POS, they can sign for their purchase and enter an email address for a paperless receipt. For most Nordstrom customers, checking out with a mobile POS is an incredibly intuitive and almost shockingly simple experience.
    Johnson explains that the goal of using the mobile POS for Nordstrom is really to “take care of customer anywhere in the store. We don’t have to take you to the cash register, and instead, can do that right there with you on dressing room or when you’re trying on shoes – and then you’re on your way.” He adds, “that kind of ability to increase speed and convenience is increasingly important.”

    Increasingly important for not just the customer’s convenience, but for Nordstrom’s sales. According to the company’s 2012 March Sales Report, “Preliminary quarter-to-date total retail sales of $1.73 billion increased 15.3 percent compared with total retail sales of $1.50 billion for the same period in fiscal 2011.” Additionally, according to the 2011 Nordstrom Annual Report, “both the average selling price and the number of items sold increased in 2011 compared with 2010.”

    Is it a coincidence that the average number of items sold and the average selling price both increased after implementing mobile point-of-sale devices? While Johnson explains that the new mobile POS at Nordstrom is designed to provide a “faster and more convenient experience for customers and reduce the time it takes time for customers to check out,” he adds that “anything that can help that is beneficial.”

    This efficiency undoubtedly reduces the potential amount of time customers have to think about their purchases before they reach the register. Though consumers may enjoy the convenience these new mobile POS devices offer, both Nordstrom’s 2012 March Sales Report and 2011 sales figures allude to the real benefit of these new mobile point-of-sale devices.

    To view the original article visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2012/04/06/nordstrom-sees-15-3-increase-in-retail-sales-following-introduction-of-mobile-pos-devices/

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    How Did You Hear About Us?


    You have undoubtedly heard that question a multitude of times. "How did you hear about us?" is one of the most important questions a retailer can ask at point of sale and can lead to thousands upon thousands of future sales.
    Your retail management software should support your marketing efforts in every way possible and include a feature for tracking and analyzing where customers have come in from; word of mouth, newspaper ads, mailers, Yelp, a blogger, etc. 

    If your Point of Sale or Retail Management System is not EMPOWERING you as a retailer, give us a call at 800-266-1328

    One Step Retail Solutions has helped thousands of retailers nationwide achieve their retail goals through top of the line retail technology. With a consultative and personal approach, One Step is a top resource for point of sale / retail management systems available on the market. Having been in business for over 27 years we have evolved relationships with specialists industry-wide and strive to bring educational resources to our retailers and other retail friends.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Visual Expert Amy Meadows Shares Tips and Thoughts on Making YOUR Shop Windows Matter

    Marshall Field's State Street

        

    It’s been said that the “eyes are the windows of the soul.” For smart retailers, the windows of your stores are the eyes into your soul. In your windows, you show off what you consider to be your shop’s main draw, your shop’s personality and individuality, and the merchandise that defines your role in the retail community.

    For designer, visual-merchandise consultant, and entrepreneur Amy Meadows, windows are the heart and soul of her business. Working as a go-to guru for well-known department stores and top-of-the-line organizations, Meadows founded Windows Matter (www.windowsmatter.com). Her purpose is to provide a “variety of services, but most specifically to meet the needs of independent businesses and business districts. My programs include assessments, coaching, makeovers and more.”
    Meadows sat down with Smart Retailer to chat about the ins and outs of making your storefront speak clearly and precisely about your business’s purpose.

    SR: What are some of the lessons you impart to your seminar attendees? Do you have some rules or principles they should put into practice:

    AM: I emphasize the need to be clean, consistent, and creative. By “clean,” I mean both in terms of visual clutter and housekeeping. Honestly, make that glass sparkle. It makes a world of difference. For “consistent,” do your signs, your website, and your marketing collateral correspond in terms of font, color, and aesthetics? Sit down and think, “Do my displays and props complement my store’s brands?” For “creative,” I don’t mean “artistry” as much as I mean problem solving. Retailers have to be bright, think fast, and be quick to improvise.
    Marshall Field's State Street
    SR: A lot of retailers are losing business or at least foot traffic to people who browse on the Web. Is there any way to use the cyber world to a retailer’s display advantage?

    AM: Yes, inspiration can come from anywhere, and the Web is a helpful tool in that regard. Maintain a Pinterest board, keep an idea file, be open to what you see around you in life and online. Stay inspired!
    Marshall Field's State Street Window
    SR: What are some of the most common mistakes you see shop owners make with their spaces and displaying?

    AM: I think many try to tell too many stories in their displays. I stress “edit, edit, and edit.” Then edit some more!
    Macy's State Street Store
    SR: If a retailer doesn’t have the money to hire a designer or doesn’t have the cash to redo a store right now, what are some quick tips to make their displays pop?

    AM: This is a simple one. Stand across the street. What do you see? What does your customer see? If objectivity is too difficult, find a buddy who will give you feedback. If nothing more, spend time cleaning, lighting, and addressing details.
    Marshall Field's State Street
    SR: How crucial is it for retailers to have a clever or eye-catching, well-delineated display?

    AM: This is a critical component to your shop’s ultimate success. When all is said and done, your storefront still remains your best advertisement.

    To view the original article please visit: Smart Retailer

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Back-to-School Shopping Sprees are a Thing of the Past

     Back-to-school shopping sprees are a thing of the past
               
    Back-to-school shopping is no longer a frenzied one-day spending spree. Families are spending more, but they are doing so over a longer period of time as they search for the best deals.

    Families are expected to spend $670 on average on back-to-school shopping, up 5% from last year, according to data out Thursday from the National Retail Federation. That includes spending on school supplies, clothes and electronics.

    But analysts and parents say the slow economic recovery, plus access to near-constant online deals, means back-to-school shopping is no longer a big event.

    Instead, parents like Tracy Seebold, 48, are shopping strategically — buying online and picking up additional in-store items when necessary. Seebold, who lives in Mifflinburg, Penn., with her children aged 10 and 14, has already purchased a few school items, including new shoes. She says she started now so that she could spread her purchases out over the next couple of months.

    REVIEWED.COM: The children's lunchbox even adults will love

    "We had done a big spree up until a couple years ago, but that's fallen to the wayside," Seebold says. "I love going back-to-school shopping, but it's just not possible this year."

    Seebold, who plans to spend no more than $300 during the official back-to-school season, is limiting her purchases to necessities like notebooks and "first-day" outfits in hopes there will be better deals after school starts.

    Many shoppers are likely spreading out their shopping, says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics Advisors. He says the back-to-school season is no longer limited to a single day of shopping in the middle of July or August.

    But just because consumers aren't crowding stores in the weeks leading up to school,that doesn't mean they're not spending more . Rather, Naroff says, consumers with approaches like Seebold's may actually end up spending more over time.

    "It may not be the big push that retailers really expect, but it doesn't mean (consumers) aren't spending," Naroff says.

    Combined spending for back-to-school is expected to reach almost $75 billion — up 3% from last year,

    And it's not just parents seeking out discounts, notes Laura Champine, a retail analyst with Canaccord Genuity.

    "Even kids are price sensitive now ... and are looking for a combination of good prices and good quality and good style," Champine says.

    Brad Wilson of BradsDeals.com says the best way to save on back-to-school shopping is to avoid the school store and bricks-and-mortar stores in general because in-store merchandising efforts are designed to get consumers to buy more. Mark LoCastro, spokesman for DealNews, says if consumers can hold out on their back-to-school shopping until Labor Day sales, they can save even more.
    Some of best deals Wilson recommends: ​

    · Classroom supplies: Walmart and Staples are likely to have the best deals, but Walgreens can also have big discounts, especially at the end of July and early August. Wilson says shopping at these stores online can also save time and money. Staples currently has a coupon for $5 off in-store purchases of $25 or more.

    · Backpacks: Kohl's is offering up to 40% off on backpacks and an additional 15% with the coupon available on BradsDeals.com

    · Technology: Students can receive a $100 gift card from Apple when they buy a Mac or a $50 gift card when they buy an iPad or iPhone if they shop online. (The Apple Education Online Store is one of the only places to offer discounts to people with .edu email addresses.) Otherwise, Wilson says technology re-sellers like Amazon and Best Buy can help save up to $200 on Apple products.
    LoCastro says the best time to purchase laptops is in August, which is when 62% of all 2013 laptop deals occurred.

    Camie Donohue lives in Minnetonka, Minn., and has two elementary school-aged children. Like Seebold, she says she's limiting her budget and skipping the back-to-school shopping spree. Fortunately for Donohue, her children's school makes the classroom portion of the supply list easy with a prepackaged box available for purchase — a trend Wilson says is becoming popular among parents and schools, though he says families could save 30% to 40% by doing their own shopping online.

    "If I went through every single item (in the box) and price compared, I could probably save a couple dollars," Donohue says. "But that's time I'd rather spend comparing the price of snow boots than pencils."

    To view the original article visit: USA TODAY

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    The Millennial Way of Shopping: More Careful, Durable, and Frugal Than You Think

     


    Remember all those articles in the early aughts about how millennials were egotistical, privileged brats who copied whatever Paris Hilton did? (Side note: Hey, remember Paris Hilton?) As the Seattle Times put it in 2005, these kids had become ”the best-dressed, least-able, least-equipped generation ever.”

    None of this is true— at least, not any more. Thanks in no small part to the worst economy since the Great Depression, millennials turned into functioning adults. They have a little less disposable income than they expected, which means that consumer companies are now changing to serve them. It turns out that today’s 18-to-34 set likes clothes and gadgets and cool stuff just as much as earlier cohorts; they just don’t buy quite so much.

    A study by the Intelligence Group, part of the Creative Artists Agency, tracked the shopping habits of 1,300 people aged 18 to 34 (as well as a smaller group of those aged 14 to 17.) A little more than a third of the millennials in the study buy only “necessary” purchases—not exactly the prodigal children of popular imagination.
    “Every young generation gets criticized by the older ones,” says Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer of the Intelligence Group. “Gen X were slackers, boomers were those crazy hippies.” The millennials, she points out, “came of age during a period of unprecedented economic wealth and were the most materially gifted generation that had ever existed before.” It all amounted to a reputation for materialism in the early 2000s—until everything changed with U.S. economic turmoil. Joining the labor force during and after the recession, with its stunted job market, “was a little bit of a perfect storm,” Gutfreund says. “They’re now much more specific and intentioned with what they buy.”

    As a millennial, I always enjoy an opportunity to turn to my older counterparts and say: “See, I’m not as narcissistic and entitled as you thought!” But if you’ve been paying attention to generational trends, the new study fits perfectly with other research that’s been done on millennials’ financial savviness and caution. A lot of this is the result of a recession from which many young people still haven’t recovered. The average college graduate now enters the job market owing about $30,000—just under the $34,500 average salary that someone with an undergraduate degree makes right out of college. (Which, by the way, is the lowest starting pay since 1998.)

    In fact, a 2010 report from the Urban Institute found that the current generation has an average level of wealth 7 percent lower than people in their twenties and thirties enjoyed in 1983; this trend predated the recession. And considering the income stagnation that has dislodged the American middle class from being the world’s wealthiest, things might not improve for millennials for quite some time.


    That doesn’t mean millennials won’t go shopping. They just do it differently than preceding generations. And in order to get their attention, companies need new approaches to marketing.
    Nearly three-fourths of millennials do online research before buying a product. They also “prioritize access over ownership,” as the Intelligence Group study puts it, which basically means millennials prefer Spotify and Netflix (NFLX) to CDs and DVDs. This non-ownership tendency extends to the rise of Zipcar (CAR), Rent the Runway, and services that don’t require a major financial commitment. When researchers ask millennials what they value, Gutfreund says responses tend to focus on experiences such as travel—things, she notes, ”that can’t be taken away from them.”
    When young people do buy something, they shy from flash-in-the-pan trends to favor more durable purchases. In response, the Intelligence Group notes, companies have been “de-branding” their designs. Denim companies, for example, are selling a lot of dark and plain jeans that will stay in style for years. And the browsing habits of millennials favor brands with seamless digital-to-storefront experience whereby what’s available online is also what’s available in stores.

    This newly frugal generation has also inspired a rise in peer-to-peer, online resale markets. The Intelligence Group reports that more than half of millennials consider the resale value of an item before they make a big purchase. A lot of this is still done through established third-party sites such as EBay (EBAY) and Craigslist, but retailers like Patagonia have started to get in on the action, too.
    There is one money-spending trend that the Intelligence Group study doesn’t fully explore. Millennials are about to enter the home-buying, family-starting age en masse, and that’s when big-ticket purchases become unavoidable. Right now, millennials make up about 25 percent of the U.S. workforce and spend about $200 billion a year. By 2020, when they will become the majority of the workforce, the study estimates, their annual spending will have doubled.

    Just don’t expect them to buy houses and raise families the way their parents did. “They watched their parents work, work, work, buy the big house, and then lose their pension and have it taken away from them,” says Gutfreund. “They’re looking at that model and thinking, ‘I want to do this differently.’”

    To view the original article please visit: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-25/millennials-are-careful-frugal-shoppers-who-buy-for-the-long-term

    Friday, July 25, 2014

    How to Dress for the First Date


    When you ask a couple how they met, the most common response these days is, “We met online.” “We met online,” has become the new, “We met at a bar.” The dating culture has changed, with the advancement of technology from Match, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Tinder and OkCupid, just to name a few. You can Skype, email, text, face time and talk on the phone to someone for days on end, until you finally agree to a first date and meet in person. The dating game has changed, but one thing remains the same; the pressure and stress of what to wear on a first date.
    We’ve all been in that situation with butterflies in our stomach, unsure of how to make the best first impression, without looking like we’re trying too hard. It is a job in itself, to find the perfect outfit to make you look presentable and appealing on a first date because who knows, they could be the one.
    We decided to pull some fashion styles from popular bloggers to help cease the crinkles in your forehead, because you should relax and enjoy your first date. After all, you probably already researched them out on Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn and read their online profile from top to bottom a few times.
    By: The One Step Retail resident blogger, Michelle Toyoshima
    These fun, chic, summer outfits would be perfect for a first date. You can go out for a nice dinner wearing this skirt, or dress down a little with this tank and white pants.  Check out these styles at J’s Everyday Fashion.
    If you want to wear something a little more posh, check out the dress selections from www.refinery29.com
     
     
    Meet Kendi and her husband Bryan; she will coax him into modeling every once in a while on her blog when he allows it. These outfits would be perfect for a first date to meet the potential love of your life.  Kendi Every day is described as a style blog for the everyday girl.
    This super cute fall outfit is perfect for looking dressy and casual with these high Ash boots. Check out the Fashionita for trendy ensembles at affordable prices.
    This jeans outfit can be worn on a casual first date to coffee or lunch while the black leggings and boots give a dressier style. Casual Chic Fashion offers tips and tricks on how to get the right look at a cheap price.
     
    This back lace dress is great for a summer night out and I like how the belt allows you to add your own sense of style. The second outfit gives a great first impression because it shows class with the shoes and stylish purse, but the jacket and boyfriend jeans give off the edgy flare, “I know how to relax and have fun.” Gal Meets Glam is the perfect fashion blog offering girlie trends with spiced up of casual styles.
    Men – If you are looking for a blog that will have outfits ready and laid out for you, Style Girlfriend is just the blog for you. There are relevant articles to the latest trends with outfits premade, and with pictures so you know exactly how to dress for that perfect first date.

    TSB men was probably one of my favorite fashion blogs for men. Not only did they have a large array of casual and dressy outfits, but they had fun articles like, “Finding Jeans for Athletic Thighs.”
    Good luck to all of you out there going on your first date. We might not be able to help with the level of chemistry, but hopefully these blogs and photos offered some tips on how to dress for the perfect date.